OIA statement in response to High Court judgment in Student Group Claim

We have issued a statement in response to High Court judgment in Student Group Claim.

The High Court has granted an eight-month pause in legal proceedings on this large group claim and has encouraged those involved to engage in alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

We welcome the Judge’s endorsement of the value of ADR and recognition of the OIA’s role. Many student complaints are resolved in their higher education provider’s internal processes without the need to take them further. If students are not satisfied with the outcome of their complaint at the end of their provider’s internal processes, they can bring their complaint to us, individually or as a group. Our Scheme is free for students. We currently resolve around 70% of complaints to us within six months of receipt.

When we uphold a complaint we can make a range of Recommendations to the provider to put things right for the student, and we have an excellent record of higher education providers complying with our Recommendations. In some cases we reach an agreement with the student and the provider to settle the complaint.

Events of the last few years, in particular the pandemic, have been very difficult for many students, and challenging for higher education providers. We have received around 2,000 complaints from individual students and groups of students that related at least in part to the impact of the Covid-19, as well as a complaint from a large group of over 400 students. When we look at complaints arising from the pandemic, we take into account government guidance at the time and relevant guidance from other bodies, and we consider whether the outcome of the student’s complaint to their provider was fair and reasonable. As a result of bringing these complaints to us, students have had financial compensation totalling over £1.2m, and in some cases practical remedies such as opportunities to make up for lost learning. We have also handled a significant number of complaints involving the impact of industrial action. We have published guidance for providers on handling complaints arising from significant disruption and case summaries that illustrate the approach we have taken to complaints arising from the impact of Covid-19 and from industrial action.

We hope that the concerns of students in the Student Group Claim can be successfully addressed through UCL’s internal complaints processes, but any students who are unhappy with the outcome at the end of those internal processes can bring their complaint to us.


Notes to Editors

For further information please contact Jenn Runde, Communications Officer, mediarelations@oiahe.org.uk, 0118 959 9813.

  1. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education (OIA) is the independent student complaints ombuds service for higher education in England and Wales. It is the designated operator of the student complaints’ scheme under the Higher Education Act 2004.
  2. We have a wide remit to review student complaints about higher education providers in England and Wales, as set out in our Scheme Rules.
  3. We have a Large Group Complaints process to enable us to handle complaints from large groups of students efficiently whilst maintaining fairness.
  4. Legal representation is not needed to use our Scheme, but students can choose to appoint a representative to help with their complaint if they would like to.
  5. We share learning from complaints to help inform the further development of policy and practice.
  6. Our Good Practice Framework provides guidance on complaints procedures and other processes.